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Full text of "My Country And My People"

274          MY    COUNTRY    AND    MY    PEOPLE

into his painting. Then, chastened in spirit, he comes back to
city life and tries to communicate it to those who are less
fortunate. His subjects may alter, but his spirit of mountain
calm remains, and when he feels he has lost or exhausted this
spirit, he travels again and rebaptizes himself in the mountain
air.

It is this spirit of calm and harmony, this flavour of the
mountain air (shanlin cKi] always tinged a little with the re-
cluse's passion for leisure and solitude, which characterizes all
forms of Chinese art. Consequently, its characteristic is not
supremacy over nature, but harmony with nature.

II. CHINESE CALLIGRAPHY

All problems of art are problems of rhythm.   Hence, in
trying to understand Chinese art, we must begin with Chinese
rhythm and the source of artistic inspiration.  Allowing that
rhythm is universal and that the Chinese do not own a mono-
poly of nature's rhythms, it is still possible to trace a difference
of emphasis. It has already been pointed out, in the discussion
on the ideal of womanhood in China, that the Western artist
invariably goes to the feminine form as inspiration for the
highest ideal of perfect rhythm, while the Chinese artist and
art-lover usually rest supremely happy in contemplating a
dragon-fly, a frog, a grasshopper or a piece of jagged rock.
From my observation, it seems therefore that the spirit of
Western art is more sensual, more passionate, more full of the
artist's own ego, while the spirit of Chinese art is more chas-
tened, more restrained, and more in harmony with nature.
We may express this difference by using the Nietzschean lan-
guage aad saying that Chinese art is Apollonian art, while
Western art is Dionysian art   This enormous difference is
possible only through a different understanding and apprecia-
tion of rhythm as such. While it is true that all problems of art
arc problems of rhythm in whatever country, it is also true
that until recently ia the West, rhythm has not played the
dominant rok which it has always enjoyed in Chinese paintings.
Curiously enough, this cult of rhythm in the abstract arose